Columbia City Council Decides on Two Major Issues

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council approved plans for the College Avenue Safety Project and Opus development Monday evening.

First, the city council voted on the College Avenue Safety Enhancement Project, or CASE. The project would build roadway safety improvements on College Avenue between University and Rollins Street. MoDOT provided the council with two options for construction.

Option A would include the installation of a low concrete wall with a short fence on top, which would cost a total of $750,000. Option B includes the installation of a full-height metal fence with "stone look" columns and would cost $490,000.

The city council approved Option A, which was the city's preferred option. City officials said the project will be under contract by December 1, 2014.

After several hours of debate, the city council approved the new development agreement with the Opus Development Company. The complex will have 256 bedrooms.

The council originally voted to hold a meeting outside of the weekly city council meetings to approve the development months ago, but a group of residents launched a petition against it. Opus then threatened to the city with a lawsuit. Ginny Chadwick of the First Ward said she wanted to keep the contractual obligation the city had with Opus.

"The day I was elected, I reached out to both sides and I've talked to them many times, every day since then to reach a solution that the city was not breaching contract, but was creating a project that I would support as a council representative," Chadwick said.

Frankie Minor, a Columbia resident with 35 years of experience in the college housing market said students should be concerned about the price of these complexes.

"Where is the housing in the more affordable price market that's being developed here, and not the high-end stuff that these students think they can afford, but they are taking on greater and greater debt," Minor said during the meeting.

The new development will be built on the north side of Locust Street, between 7th Street and 8th Street.